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Annan Writes On Oil-For-Food Corruption Allegation

Annan Sends Letter To Security Council On Oil-For-Food Programme

A United Nations spokesman announced today that Secretary-General Kofi Annan has sent a letter to members of the Security Council in connection with the "Oil-for-Food" humanitarian aid programme, which has been the subject of press reports alleging corruption.

While the contents of the letter have not been made public, Mr. Annan reporters this morning that there would be a probe. "I've been in discussions with Council members for some time now to discuss the scope and the extent of the investigation," he said in response to questions.

"It is highly possible that there's been quite a lot of wrong-doing, but we need to investigate and get to see who was responsible," he added, pointing out that the massive relief effort had involved "so many companies [and] so many countries" that a great deal of information would be needed.

"Whoever undertakes the investigation would need quite a bit of cooperation from others," he said. "But at least, we will go ahead full-speed on our own staff, and hopefully, it can be expanded to other areas."

The Secretary-General also noted that the Iraqis themselves say they are organizing a probe and voiced hope that relevant documents would be shared with the UN.

Asked whether a Security Council resolution would be necessary to authorize an investigation, he replied, "if not necessarily a resolution, an agreement, an understanding that they will cooperate and get others to cooperate to make the report."

"Don't forget that the 661 Committee also oversaw the Oil-for-Food" programme, he added, referring to a panel of all Security Council members set up in 1990 to monitor the sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait.

"Their cooperation is going to be essential," he stressed.

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